ADASS publishes their annual budget survey

policy digest

25 / 07 / 2017

ADASS Budget Survey
ADASS, July 2017

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has published their annual budget survey, which assesses social care expenditure. It finds that despite extra investment from central government, adult social care continues to have to make significant cuts. The survey finds serious concerns about the sustainability of the care market and the ability of local authorities to prioritise prevention and early intervention to make future savings.

The budget survey was conducted in May 2017 and received a 95 per cent response rate from Directors of Adult Social Services. It took place after the announcement of additional funding for adult social care, to be pooled within the Better Care Fund. However, the final planning guidance for the spending of this money had not yet been communicated so the full context around this money was not known to respondents.

Key figures:

  • Net council budgets saw a one per cent cash terms reduction between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
  • The adult social care net budget accounts for 36.9 per cent of the whole council budget in 2017/18, a slight rise on the previous year.
  • All but five councils elected to raise money for social care through the Adult Social Care council tax precept in 2017/18, the majority (70.6 per cent) at the full three per cent value.
  • In 2016/17 the combined overspend on adult social care was £366m, a considerable increase on 2015/16. This was financed mainly through use of reserves or other underspends.
  • The highest ranked concern for directors in terms of financial pressures was the unit price of care, followed by complexity, then increased responsibilities.
  • Planned savings in adult social care for 2017/18 (before council tax precept and iBCF are taken into account) represent 27 per cent of total council savings, equating to five per cent of net adult social care budgets.
  • Only 31 per cent of directors were fully confident that their planned savings would be met in 2017/18, dropping to seven per cent for 2019/20.
  • 77 per cent of respondents believe that providers are facing financial difficulty and 74 per cent that they are facing quality challenges.
  • Spend on prevention makes up 6.3 per cent of the 2017/18 budgets, a decrease on last year both as a proportion of the budget and in cash terms.
  • Provider failure has affected 69 per cent of councils, with “care home providers in particular choosing to withdraw from council funded contracts”.
  • 15.5 per cent of councils had received fines for delayed transfers of care, diverting additional funding for social care into acute NHS services.

In conclusion, the authors welcome additional funding, but stress the extremely challenging context that remains in adult social care. Cuts will continue to be made due to rises in demand and costs and there are “real concerns about the sustainability of the care market”. Prevention in order to make savings in the longer term is impossible to prioritise with councils struggling to meet statutory duties. They stress that there remains a need for a long-term sustainable solution to funding adult social care.

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